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South America, Bolivia, Cordillera Apolobamba, Palomani Sur, First Ascent and Various New Terrain

Palomani Sur, first ascent, and various new terrain. Climbing on equal terms with Bolivian guide Pedro Quispe, Charlie Netherton attempted an integral traverse of the Palomani Tranca group in the northern Apolobamba. They approached this rarely visited area with porters from the road at Paso de Pelechuco, hoping to establish a base camp at Laguna Chucuyo Grande. However, after six hours’ walk the porters stopped at a smaller lake to the south. The climbers later discovered a 4x4 mining road that runs from Apacheta Pampa to a roadhead only one hour from their camp.

Short on time, they climbed without a reconnaissance directly up a rock band east of their camp (200m, III [UIAA rock]), followed by a pitch up a frozen waterfall (WI3) to a hanging valley and the toe of the glacier southwest of the group. Here they pitched a tent and climbed a loose rocky peak up to the left that they thought was the most southerly of the group. The next day, September 4, they packed the tent, climbed the snout of the glacier (200m, up to 50°) and headed up the plateau beyond. Two tiny rock steps on the southeast ridge led to the previously unclimbed Palomani Sur (estimated to be between 5,500m and 5,600m), which they traversed at II-III with a rappel on the far side down steep, loose terrain. Continuing north they traversed another rock summit on the crest over tricky, loose snow before reaching the first of three summits (all of more or less the same altitude, though the middle is considered the highest) that make up Palomani Tranca Central. This they climbed via 100m of 50° snow on the southeast face. Continuing more eastward, they reached a foresummit of Palomani Tranca Main (5,638m), which was 50m away horizontally. They could see that to the north of the main peak the ridge continued down at 45°, with steep steps of loose rock to the col between Tranca Main and Palomani Grande (5,723m). From the foresummit they forewent the nasty traverse over loose rock and instead headed southeast onto a glacier, from which they followed scree slopes back to base camp. They rated their two-day outing Alpine D.

Charlie Netherton, U.K., and Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO Editor, CLIMB magazine